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Contingency Fee Agreement Versus An Hourly Rate

In most car accidents, trucking accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, or any other type of personal injury case, your lawyer will probably quote you a fee that is a contingency fee rather than an hourly rate as a personal injury lawyer can explain.

Contingency fee arrangements are often used in cases where clients may not have the financial means to pay hourly fees or retainers upfront, such as personal injury cases. They can provide access to legal representation for individuals who might otherwise be unable to afford it. It is a fee that does not require a retainer from the client to cover legal fees and costs – retainers can be $25,000 in a divorce case, for example, which is just a “deposit” towards future legal fees and costs.  Rather, the lawyer works on a percentage of the recovery she or he can get you from a case and advances all of the costs and expenses related to the litigation.  The lawyer is compensated at the end of the case, if the case is successful. If the case ends with no recovery, the lawyer gets no fee and the client typically does not have to pay for any of the legal costs expended.

A contingency fee agreement can be advantageous for clients in certain situations compared to an hourly rate arrangement. Here are some reasons why as told by our friends at Kiefer & Kiefer:

  • No Upfront Costs: With a contingency fee agreement, the client typically does not pay any attorney’s fees upfront. Instead, the attorney’s fee is contingent upon the outcome of the case. This can be beneficial for clients who may not have the financial resources to pay hourly fees or retainers.
  • Aligned Incentives: Contingency fee arrangements align the interests of the client and the attorney. Since the attorney’s fee is based on the outcome of the case, the attorney has a strong incentive to work diligently to achieve a favorable outcome for the client. This can lead to a more focused and dedicated effort on behalf of the client.
  • Risk Sharing: Contingency fee agreements allow clients to share the risk of litigation with their attorney. If the case is unsuccessful and no recovery is obtained, the client typically does not owe the attorney any fees. This can provide clients with peace of mind and reduce the financial risk associated with pursuing legal action.
  • Access to Justice: Contingency fee arrangements can increase access to legal representation for individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford it. This is particularly beneficial in cases involving personal injury or other civil matters where clients may be facing powerful opponents, such as insurance companies or large corporations.
  • Potential for Higher Recovery: In some cases, clients may receive a higher recovery through a contingency fee arrangement compared to paying hourly fees. This is because the attorney’s fee is often based on a percentage of the recovery, incentivizing the attorney to maximize the amount recovered for the client.

However, it’s essential to consider the specific circumstances of your case and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both contingency fee agreements and hourly rate arrangements. In some cases, an hourly rate arrangement may be more appropriate, depending on factors such as the complexity of the case, the likelihood of success, and the client’s financial situation. It’s advisable to discuss your options with your attorney and carefully review the terms of any fee agreement before proceeding.